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The Arkansas

by Cornelius Coleman II

Green Country

His return to the individualized and lonesome trappings of private civilian life had become a pendulum of anchorless abstractions: a changed man’s thoughts wandering aimlessly through an alien environment. Sergeant Josiah Betancourt’s homecoming from Operation Enduring Freedom bore no resemblance to the ticker-tape deluges of welcome home parades or the iconic still-life photography that immortalized Lucky Strike puffing American G.I.s’ embracing starry-eyed pin-up girls. These romantic celluloid mirages, for him, always captured that generation’s collective need to simply appreciate survival as the zenith of all joyful moments; the precursor of all great things large and small. Now, Josiah foraged for these sentiments through the thick brambles and thorn-laced briars of combat related stress However, his subsequent findings could only be described as disillusion as he looked directly at the final deposit for a veteran’s service – the confounding disintegration of a once-unvarnished faith.

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The Last Army

by Will Sweger

 

I eased along the jagged surface of the rock and peered along a crevice trying not to show too much of myself. The vantage point that we had climbed all morning for was worth it. Small scrubby trees clung to the sides of the mountains as they dropped into the narrow corral of a valley. At the center, just offset from the dry creek bed that carved the place, was the walled compound that was our target. Its mud and stone walls rose above the dusty ground around it as if the place had been hewn from the earth itself. Like most Afghan country enclaves, it was arranged with a high outer wall and several inner buildings huddled around a courtyard. I strained to see the entrance of the valley, to see if the cav troopers were set up there with the cordon. Standard procedure was simply to roll up the valley and take the compound, but I had argued with command to let me take infantry through the high pass in order to cut off the escape of anyone who tried to run.

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Aeromedical

by David McOwen

I have broken people in my head.

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Rabbit’s Foot

by Brian Kerg

John Butler didn’t think he’d be asked to make such an unfair promise.

He didn’t know how to feel when he managed to keep it.

He was terrified when he was asked to make it again.

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Quittin’ Time

by Shannon Coghlan Reiss

Dad’s impending retirement had worried me for years. “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” my brother Bobby asked. I figured he’d sit around drinking beer and watching television all day. Work keeps people alive. Everyone knew that. Recently, my friends’ parents started retiring, and one by one, they got sick.

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Dover

by Renee Gherity

families of the fallen
there’s a center for you
in a coffee-tabled room
with tranquil
landscaped paintings
and leather couches

and there’s a room for children
with pillowed floors
and walls with chalkboard paint
to draw their feelings

while you wait
for the transfer case

Renee Gherity’s husband is a retired Navy captain. Her poem “War Waltz, Uncounted,” about PTSD, was published in The Innisfree Journal, 21.

Running Man

by Jeremy Warneke

Bachmann ran like hell. He was darting down the avenue dressed in his blue-and-white-checkered, pajama bottoms and cordovan, patent leather, dress shoes, folded beige-and-green striped, staff umbrella in hand. It wasn’t the first time. It would not be the last. It was not raining. It was a fairly warm autumn evening. The time was 12 o’clock, midnight.

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The House

by Kerilynne McFadden

The house sat on the hill overlooking the valley below. It brooded as it sat there, the windows empty and the shutters swinging in the wind softly.

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War Souvenir

by James E. Smith

I spent a week with the rat patrol
checking the road for booby traps.
Larry talked about his girl in Georgia;
he carried a picture of Lisa smiling
beneath the magnolias,
wearing a pure white dress.

We passed through a country
where we didn’t belong,
sent to preserve somebody’s freedom.

Soldiers believe there’s no greater bond
than the one between brothers in arms.

Larry told me he killed a man,
not for hate nor for glory.
His squad was ambushed one night –
Larry kept shooting into the dark,
into the heart of a stranger.

Buddhists believe we are bound
to an endless cycle of birth and rebirth.

Next morning he didn’t rejoice
when he found the twisted corpse
of the man who tried to destroy him.

Larry shouldn’t have taken his wallet;
he showed me the picture inside –
a girlfriend or wife reaching out
to touch a lotus flower,
wearing a pure white dress.

James E. Smith served during the Vietnam War as a grunt with the 25th Infantry Division. He is active with the Vietnam Veterans of America and works with incarcerated veterans. 

The Blotch

by Jeffrey Paolano

The Blotch

At the bell Dr. Rotherstall, PhD, has but forty-five minutes to run down to her car, drive to the DMV, comply with the state requirement to renew her registration in person, and return to the classroom before Read more